The exile deal
By Farrukh Saleem
No simple deal it was. It has been in the making for a while. Nawaz Sharif's departure, however, is bound to lower the political temperature, and Pakistan, as a consequence, shall be better off. Benchmarks leading to Mr Sharif's exile include:
July 4, 1999 : Mr Sharif commits with Clinton to cool off Kargil;
November '99 : Hamad al-Thani, Qatar's foreign minister, meets Mr Sharif in prison;
November '99 : Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia gives his blessing to the meeting;
Nov 11, 2000 : Gen Musharraf arrives in Doha;
Nov 12 : Qatar hosts ninth OIC summit;
Nov 12 : Gen Musharraf holds a meeting with Prince Abdullah;
Nov 12 : Gen Musharraf meets Mirwaiz Umar Farooq of Hurriyat Conference;
Nov 18 : Mirwaiz claims that Pakistan's position on Kashmir has "changed";
Nov 19 : Vajpayee declares a temporary unilateral ceasefire;
Nov 24 : Abdul Sattar says "government prepared to honour July 4 agreement";
Nov 27 : Ceasefire comes into force;
Nov 29 : IMF's executive board approves a standby credit for Pakistan;
Dec 2 : Pakistan promises "maximum restraint" along the LoC;
Dec 10 : Mr Sharif and family leave for Saudi Arabia;
Dec 11 : Gen Musharraf and Shaukat Aziz leave for the UAE.
To be certain, the top gun in Pakistan, as long as other guns are behind him, isn't afraid of Kulsoom, ARD, the Nawabzada or any other Pakistani for that matter. At this stage, there isn't a domestic pressure group around that can goad the generals in any particular direction. Who then got Nawaz Sharif out of Pakistan?
First, it must have been external pressures.
Second, a package deal must have been stuck.
What does Gen Musharraf need right away? Two things for sure: oil and money. An added bonus would be the liquidation of domestic political capacity to oppose the regime. Saudi Arabia has oil and America has money. How much of oil and money would they give to our uniformed politicians? Not much. Just about enough for us to continue barely breathing and that too for a few more months. With Nawaz Sharif gone, and Benazir Bhutto and Altaf Hussain already in exile, the generals have bought themselves two things: more time and space for political manoeuvring.
What does America want from Gen Musharraf? To begin with, a cessation of hostilities between India and Pakistan, followed by a process leading to a peaceful resolution of the Kashmir conflict. Secondly, Clinton owes one to Mr Sharif.
Over the medium to long haul, the top guns are learning, albeit gradually, at least four things. First, that statecraft is not their cup of tea. Second, politicians would have to be brought back either through a general election or by restoring assemblies. Third, they need to back off on Kashmir. Fourth, the army is also going to need a safe passage.
Oil shall, as a result, continue to drip into Pakistan from Saudi Arabia on a deferred payment plan (our strategic reserves of oil and petroleum - storage capacity for civil and military usage - is limited to seven days). At the IMF, America abstained from voting against Pakistan (the US, represented by Lawrence H. Summers, has 371,743 votes).
In the eyes of a common Pakistani, the military has lost its justification to rule. In our context, that's neither here nor there. To the IMF, Gen Musharraf's hand now lays naked. The IMF can either play its cards with confidence or, having smelled blood, go for a kill. Knowing what the Fund does best, it will make calculated moves pushing its pawns forward in a rather drawn-out bout, eventually cornering the king for a checkmate.
xt, that's neither here nor there. To the IMF, Gen Musharraf's hand now lays naked.
The IMF can either play its cards with confidence or, having smelled blood, go for a kill.
Knowing what the Fund does best, it will make calculated moves pushing its pawns forward
in a rather drawn-out bout, eventually cornering the king for a checkmate.